Posts Tagged With: Landscape

Maine or Bust 2022: Main(e) Memories of Freeport

From our front porch we could see the finger of land across the water hiding Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. Curious, we drove around and found a trail to explore, looping through the grounds and offering views of coastal tide pools, towering forests and an occasional wildflower.

Taking advantage of another beautiful day, we thought we had found the perfect outing. A short ferry ride from Portland, Maine took us across Casco Bay to Long Island where a 6-mile walk awaited. We packed our lunch and cashed in on the senior ticket rate, excited about our big, cheap adventure. Expecting a trail through the woods and along the shore, we were disappointed to find the walk followed a paved road through mostly residential neighborhoods. Even worse, there was not a public restroom to be found. Posted signs warned of poison ivy making a discreet duck behind a bush too risky for me. We called it quits and raced back to the dock to catch the next ferry back to the mainland, reminding us that you can’t win them all!

The weather took a turn for the worse, dumping buckets of rain. The perfect day to check out Freeport’s main shopping attraction.

L.L. Bean fans flock to the many specialized L.L. Bean stores in Freeport. But don’t expect too many bargains. While other brand name retailers offered 30-60% markdowns, Bean deals were few and far between.

With the return of the sun, we took a chance on another island walk. A 7-mile portion of the West Side Trail took us by foot from Fels-Groves Farm Preserve, across the bridge over Casco Bay and a circle around Cousins Island. We hoped for an expansive ocean view at trail’s end, but once again our expectations were dashed. However, we enjoyed the walk and appreciated the bench (where we ate our lunch) and the congratulatory signpost at the end.

We have one more week to enjoy the great state of Maine. This morning, Reg and I woke up to a new, gorgeous view through the trees and across the water to Mt. Desert Island that sits adjacent to Acadia National Park. We’re taking another lazy Sunday before joining the sightseeing crowds. More to come…

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Maine or Bust 2022: The Grand Canyon of the East

Letchworth State Park, the Grand Canyon of the East, covers over 14,000 beautifully forested acres that stretch roughly 17 miles along the Genesee River gorge in western New York state.

Below the bridge, Upper Falls spills into the Genesee River and flows down over Middle Falls.

The park campground was not yet open for the season, so we got an early start from our nearby KOA campground and spent one day exploring numerous hiking trails that wove up and down throughout the park.

Scattered among the grounds are 15 descriptive panels and 60 commemorative medallions marking the locations of the projects FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps completed in the 1930s and early 1940s. Some, like the bridge below, still stand today. Others, like the fireplace, have been renovated.

We have one more day to fill and another New York state park to share with you before moving on. Where will that be?

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Maine or Bust 2022: Appalachian Trail Dream

A short drive to Virginia’s Grayson Highlands State Park allowed us a chance for a short hike with a link to one of the country’s most iconic national trails.

The 2.3-mile Massie Gap and Wilburn Ridge loop trail overlaps a portion of the Appalachian Trail, the nearly 2,200-mile path that leads thru-hikers from Springer Mountain in the state of Georgia, north to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

If we were 25 years younger we might try hiking this entire trail. You never know, but for now…this short segment will have to do.

We read that we could expect spectacular views and, if we were lucky, glimpses of a wild Grayson Highland pony or two.

From atop the rock outcropping (behind Reg in photo with trail marker above) we could see forever. We rejoined the Appalachian Trail section and continued on for a short bit until a steep downhill (requiring a steep return ascent) turned us around.

We found a grassy meadow for a lunch stop, but not one pony was tempted to join us. They all remained hidden from sight.
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Maine or Bust 2022: The Virginias

Our perfect timing allowed us to spend Easter weekend with Chris and Gail in and around Charleston, West Virginia. We relaxed with dinner out Saturday night and spent Easter Sunday hanging around our campsite. After two games of croquet, where the guys fought for first place and Gail and I battled it out for last place, we rounded out the evening gathered around our cozy trailer dinette feasting on barbecued shish kebabs. And then it was time to say goodbye…

We’re settled in Virginia for close to a week in this hidden gem of an RV park.

We’re not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 469-mile national parkway that runs through Virginia and North Carolina. We drove a part of it on a trip 5 years ago, but the weather was so cold and foggy we deserted it after just a few miles. This time the weather was beautiful, but cold…36 degrees as we stopped at various viewpoints and took a quick look around the historical 1889 Brinegar cabin property. Returning by way of an alternate route, we saw acres of Christmas tree farms decorating the landscape.

A six-mile roundtrip walk along the New River Trail State Park, a 57-mile strip that follows the abandoned railroad right-of-way, got us out of the truck for some much needed exercise. With two more days to fill and temperatures promising to warm up into the 70s (F), we expect to explore more of this rail trail with our bikes.

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Maine or Bust 2022: Miles of Passageways

With over 365 miles of surveyed passageways, geologists think there could be 600 more miles yet to be charted throughout the cave that lies below Mammoth Cave National Park. Known as the longest cave system on earth, it has been explored off and on for the last 4,000 years. The national park offers a selection of below ground tours for curious visitors. Reg reserved the 2-hour Gothic Tour, allowing us a taste of what the ancient explorers found.

A flight of stairs led us down past a dripping waterfall and into the historic entrance of the cave. Our guide led us a mile through several passageways, pointing out some artifacts dating back to the War of 1812 and telling endless stories of historical significance. Ancient graffiti covered the ceiling, left by 19th century explorers who created their names with soot from their candle flame.

The Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail runs 16 miles from the park visitor’s center to the town of Park City. We rode about 5.5 miles before turning around…not bad for our first ride of the year. Sections of the mostly crushed rock trail made for a bumpy ride while the plank bridges created a much smoother path.

Getting to the backcountry area of the park required a short ferry ride across the fast-flowing Green River. We had the Big Hollow Loop trail almost completely to ourselves. Recent rains had left some slick, muddy areas. Downed trees lay across the trail in a few spots, requiring us to climb up and over.

Two full days to explore the park was plenty for us. If you want to take advantage of several different cave tours then three or four days might be better. Either way, Mammoth Cave National Park is definitely worth the stop. Now, on to West Virginia…

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Maine or Bust 2022: A Thunderous Kentucky Welcome

We arrived at our Singing Hills RV Park campsite early in the day, so we had a free afternoon to explore Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park prior to our scheduled cave tour the next morning.

After a securing a park guide with map, and armed with a couple short hike recommendations, we each gobbled down a mammoth hot dog and left the busy visitor’s center. The promise of wild flowers led us to a short hike to see where the underground River Styx exits, spilling into a muddy pond that flows into Green River.

Back at our campsite, Mother Nature had plans for our evening. You might remember awhile back I mentioned my fear of tornadoes. As we were making dinner, my phone began whining like a miniature air raid siren with a voice shouting ”Tornado warning! Take cover now!” Fortunately, I had my warning radius set far wider than necessary and the danger zone was a safe distance away…but not so far away that we avoided the storm. A bank of black clouds quickly covered us, bringing winds that shook our trailer, thunder, lightning and torrential rains. A pretty crazy night!

Categories: Maine or Bust 2022, U.S. National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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